Jasmine Maietta is a longtime athlete who brought her to work in marketing for world-renowned brands such as Reebok, Under Armor and Peloton. However, she had the idea of merging sport and art, which is why she founded round21.
Jasmine’s brand, which she launched in 2018, combines sporty relaxation with artistic expression for today’s passionate generation. round21 serves the community by increasing and celebrating diversity in culture, sport and art. Its products are designed to give the athlete identity through designs that reflect their values. Jasmine and the brand purposely partner with multicultural creatives and artists who are committed to spreading positive, consistent ideas.
If you’re wondering why you should start ping pong pong, the former professional basketball player saw how ping pong is typically found in locker rooms and clubhouses for the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB to bring those spaces to life between games. Over the years, she noticed that most of the athletes’ self-expression was only found on their uniforms and shoes, leaving their equipment empty, much like the paddles used for these table tennis games. This change would allow athletes to develop a sense of originality and creativity on and off the field. The goal of round21 is to “inspire more people to play, create and connect in the world”. Since table tennis is one of the most complete and diverse activities, it’s the perfect place to get the brand started.
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Round21’s products are developed in Japan, a place where minimalist, functional design is the norm and gives players everything they need without too much. Over a 20 month period, the design process included research, sketching, modeling, and consumer testing, plus over 100 prototypes to achieve the right design. Part of the process took them to Hida, Japan around 21, where woodworkers helped them find the perfect mix of wood to add strength, sustainability, durability and weight to their paddles. The handles are made of beech wood, which makes them durable and shockproof. The blades are made of poplar wood, which is light and strong. For the foam, they worked with leading shoe engineers to create a new layer of foam that “absorbs the impact of the ball and returns that energy with every game”. The outer rubber layer had to be engineered to be soft, resilient, durable, sticky, and water-clear, resulting in a high-performing, lightweight rubber that also protects the round21 art.
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We asked Jasmine how she selects the artists to work with and she said, “Every Round 21 artist must embody our brand values - inclusive, optimistic, empowering, exploratory, uplifting. Our multicultural and multimedia list of independent creatives uses their art as a means of conveying what makes them different, breaking down barriers and promoting engagement between people. “And besides the imaginative, eye-catching designs, it’s this ethos that really makes us love and support round21.
Round21 has partnered with the LA Lakers and Detroit Pistons since its inception to develop bespoke ping pong paddles for their players while they are quarantined during COVID-19. In terms of the artists it works with, the brand recently had a highly anticipated collaboration with artist and sneaker customizer Sierato to design a ping pong paddle and basketball backboard. Other artists round21 works with include Berlin-based visual artist Ju Schnee, Los Angeles-based design director Adhemas Batista, Alabama-based graphic designer / illustrator / art director Hank Washington, New York-based designer Kelli Adams, and the New York based designer Sabine Dowek.
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>>> Check out the Design Milk Shop here to see more Round21 table tennis paddles and mini basketball hoops! <